One of the many reasons we read fiction is to escape the reality called life. Reading a memoir is like reading fiction for me, as it doesn't happen to me or anyone I know. For instance, I didn't realize Memoirs of a Geisha was an actual memoir until I completed it (yeah I kinda missed the point while reading the title) and it did feel like a fiction while reading it. Rarely does a memoir make me feel that the writer did go through these, and they know what they talk about. So when I received Meet Me in Paris from the author I did not expect anything different. So how did it fare on the scale? Read on.
Book Name: Meet Me in Paris
Author: Juliette Sobanet
Characters: Danielle (Juliette), Nick
Disclaimer: Thanks to the Author for the free copy of the book, in exchange for an honest review.
The memoir traces about two to three years of the author's life, who is a successful romance writer, someone in love with Paris. She is married to her high school sweetheart and their marriage is beyond salvage. Despite their love for each other, she feels she is trapped in her marriage and is seeking an escape. That is when Nick enters into her life and shows her what is to be adored and loved in the two days they spend together away from their spouses. Yes, Nick is married and has no intention to leave his wife, despite their open relationship. Yet for Danielle it is an eye opener, and she finally decides both she and her husband deserve better, they proceed to separate. Danielle travels to the only place that could offer her the solace and the excitement she needed in her life, where Nick travels just to spend two weeks with her. What happens then? Do the star-crossed lovers spend their lives together? Or is Nick just a rebound?
I should start with how amazed I am at the author's courage to wrote about her personal life, especially one that talks about her separation and an affair with a married man. The memoir talked about the period when she was at her most vulnerable when she was in love with someone who would never leave his wife and she has left her husband, albeit not for her lover. Though I didn't like Danielle's (Juliette) nor Nick's character as a person, I understand that is how life is. There are no black and white squares to peg people in. Her memoir takes us through her heartbreak, divorce, hopelessness, depression and also falling in love, figuring out the future and of course travelling, baring her emotions as it is, it can not get truer than this.
Juliette's writing shows that she is a seasoned romance novelist. I was resonating with her plight to be stuck in a suffocating loveless marriage and having an affair before and during her separation even though it is such a taboo. I think it was only due to her writing style that she made me empathize with her and even, justify her actions. Her love for Nick and his for her could not have been captured any better. Even the intimate scenes were beautifully written and honest to say the least, (Note: not suited for young audience - PG rated.)
A few days ago, one of my friends was saying (read as complaining) that he dropped a book mid-way as it had too many characters while none of them had impact on the storyline. I was genuinely shocked and kinda miffed as well. But I was able to relate to this emotion when I was reading this one. Wow Juliette, you do have so many friends! While I am happy for you, but after a while, it became hard even to remember anyone at all, and you know what, it still didn't matter as far as the plot was concerned.
Did I relate to her? No.
Did I like her actions and choices? No.
Did I understand her? Yes, and I think that is where a writer in her shone her best.
And yes there were times that I wanted to throw the book at her, for her choices exasperated me but again, that is people do in real life - mess it up and pick the dust to move on. We all mess up, we all do things that in reflection understand we should not have. But to gather what is left and move ahead to make better choices is what Juliette did. That is what I feel about the memoir, a brave and honest attempt. If you like Eat, Pray and Love - you might like this. The plot about discovering oneself through travel post-separation might be vaguely similar, but give it a chance you will find it grow on you.
This review has been a part of the CBC Magazine
Labels: 2016, ARC, drama, fiction, review